“That is what my pinky toe would like to say!”
“Just be quiet or we’ll get caught!”
Three Gryffindor girls, heading down a dark and faintly lit corridor in the middle of the night, relapsed in silence for a moment. Then, when they had just reached the corner, one of them snorted loudly. “Right, like that will ever happen.”
An impatient sigh followed. “Brice, you know there is a lot at stake. We only get one chance at this and I certainly am not about to screw it up by walking into Filch.”
Mary awkwardly cleared her throat. “Actually, I think Filch would be oblivious to our company if we were belly dancing right in front of him. Courtesy of an Invisibility Cloak, Lil.”
Her best friend made a huffing sound, which Mary took as silent consent and she tried to turn back to Brice in the narrowed space. “And we should thank you for that. I still don’t know how you got James to borrow you his precious little cloak.”
Brice shrugged. “Earlier this week I solved a Transfiguration assignment for him he was struggling with and agreed to not tell his friends about it.”
Mary frowned. “Transfiguration? But that is his best subject.”
“Yeah, to be honest I was wondering where his head was at. I finished it in about two minutes.”
“Still, you got to borrow the Cloak in return. Did he ask why you needed it?”
“Is Dumbledore fond of lemon drops? It’s James we’re talking about. Of course he asked!”
“So what did you tell Potter?” Lily asked, deciding to join in the conversation after all.
“Tonight at dinner I mentioned it had something to do with a Hufflepuff guy with a cute bum in a tight cupboard on the fourth floor and,” she paused deliberately before adding cheekily, “I made sure Black heard it too.”
Mary giggled, thinking of Sirius’s jealous personality. “And how did Mr. Haughtiness take that?”
“Pretended he did not hear, but I saw him rolling his eyes when he thought I wasn’t looking. Which, I reckon, is better than no response at all.”
They were heading down the stairs of an even darker dungeon corridor that led to the Slytherin Common Room. So far there was no sign of Filch or any patrolling Professors, but Mrs. Norris was known to jump out of nowhere on occasion, so they were extra careful as they were slowly getting closer to their destination.
When they had finally reached the tall dark green marble pillars across the Common Room entrance, Lily slowly exhaled audibly. “I cannot believe we actually made it.”
“You can thank James for that in the morning,” Mary noted shrewdly.
“How about just paying my respects to Brice instead?” Lily countered.
“Oooh lovely, I take both Chocolate Frogs and Sugarquills, thank you very much,” Brice replied, grinning, before glancing at her watch. “Well... It’s only a quarter to five. What’s next?”
“Nothing,” Lily said, taking out her wand and putting it down next to her on the floor, “We’ll hang out here until Wilkes, Mulciber and Travers walk out.”
Mary yawned noisily. “Why come out this early when it will take hours for them to emerge?”
“Because I have occasionally seen Wilkes go out for a morning run around the lake before breakfast. What if he goes again today? We cannot afford that prat getting off the hook.”
“I guess that’s true,” Mary agreed, but Brice groaned in frustration and slowly slid down the pillar’s wall.
“Wait another two hours? Man, I know I should have brought a crossword puzzle.”
“I cannot believe we got all of them!”
All tiredness forgotten, Brice was positively breaming as the three of them headed down from their dormitory, where she had safely put the Cloak back into her trunk, to the Great Hall to get some breakfast themselves.
“I know, right?” Lily replied, her eyes twinkling mischievously. “They have no idea what’s coming for them.”
Mary, who was feeling giddy with excitement as well, already had trouble keeping from laughing.
Mulciber, Wilkes and Travers were in for a very unpleasant surprise later today. If only they knew... “So Lil, how long exactly will it take for the spell to take effect?”
“A couple of hours, I think, but there was nothing about it in the book. I admit this is one thing I’m not one hundred percent sure about. However, we won’t strike until dinner anyway, so I’m not worried.”
They continued chatting happily about random things until they rounded a corner, where Professor Clearwater was waiting for them. “Miss Evans, Miss McDonald, could I have a moment of your time, please?”
Lily and Brice exchanged a brief, but worried glance, and excused themselves to follow their Professor to a nearby classroom. Mary, who was no longer taking Divination, frowned as she watched her friend’s backs disappear through the door. Had they not been careful enough? Was Clearwater onto something?
Realizing there was not much she could do about it at the moment, she turned to walk into the Great Hall. When she was passing the Slytherin table, her eyes almost immediately fell on the Slytherins she and her friends had hexed only half an hour ago. She could not help but pause, her eyes locking with Mulciber’s, whose fake smile never matched his cold, calculating eyes.
With a slight churning of her stomach, she feared he was performing Legillimency on her. So far she had been unable to fully master Occlumency, and if he was trying to read her mind right this second... That would be disastrous, to say the least.
Right when she was contemplating to pull out her wand in order to show him she knew what he was doing, someone placed a hand on the small of her back. “Woods, what’re you doing?”
Mary turned and found herself staring into Sirius Black’s grey eyes. “I-I eh... was just ehm-” She forced herself to pause while trying to restore her confidence. “Godric, what was I doing? Ehm, must be because it’s still so damn early – I really hate Mondays, don't you?”
She faltered under Sirius’s gaze, who seemed to be looking right through her and did not buy anything she had just said, and felt a blush creeping up her cheeks, but thankfully Remus also happened to be there to distract him.
“You really should avoid coming out here all by yourself, Mary,” he said, cocking his head over to the Slytherin table. “You never know what those guys are up to next.”
Mulciber was leaning towards Travers and the latter whispered something to him, making his eyes glint maliciously.
Severus Snape, who was sitting right in between, looked slightly uncomfortable when Mulciber called out: “Oi Lupin, looking like a ghost again. Surely this wouldn’t be the best time to lay the moves on a girl? Or... Unless Mudbloods dig sick and ghastly-looking fellows. I wouldn’t know, I tend to avoid going near their kind.”
Some Slytherins laughed, others were just watching the scene unfolding in front of them. Remus was staring at Mulciber and his friends while shaking his head, looking amused, but Sirius, hotheaded as ever, would not have any of it.
“Shut it, Mulciber,” he growled, which in a strange way was reminding Mary of a dog, “or I will shove those sausages in a place they will come flying out your nose so fast you won’t know what hit you.”
The students at the table seemed to be holding their breath. Mulciber however seemed unfazed and merely shot them his cold, intimating smile. “Tut-tut Black,” he said, “you of all people should know better than to hang out with inferior people like them.”
“Alright, that’s it!” A furious Sirius was already reaching for his wand when both Remus and Mary intervened and held him back.
“Don’t,” she told him quietly, getting hold of his hand, before looking at the Professors table and realizing they were watching closely. She would not let Sirius ruin what she and the other girls had in store for Mulciber and his friends. She could wait, she would have her revenge later today.
After exchanging a glance with Remus, albeit for different reasons, they silently pulled Sirius along with them.
When Wilkes shouted; “Yeah, you keep on walking, Black!” Mary could feel Sirius’s muscles tense under the grip of her fingers. “One jinx, Moony. One Jelly-Legs Jinx is all I ask.”
“Nope,” Remus replied dryly.
Sirius was still fuming by the time they reached the Gryffindor table and joined James and Peter. “Those insufferable gits! I cannot understand why they got away with cursing Muggle-borns that easily.”
“Actually, I heard Slughorn put them down for detention for the rest of the year,” Remus pointed out while offering Mary a slice of toast.
“What happened?” Peter asked, watching them curiously.
“Nothing much, Wormtail,” Sirius said cheerfully, back to his confident and cheeky self already while pouring himself a rich goblet of pumpkin juice. “Just saved fair Mary here from a second rendez-vous with festering Slytherins.”
Mary arched an eyebrow. “Who was asking for a rescue operation? Not me.”
Sirius winked. “Ah, it was worth a shot. Thought you might wanted to go on a date after I saved your life twice in a row.”
He chuckled. “Your loss.”
Mary looked at an unusual quiet James, who was moodily picking at his food with his wand and repeatedly making his orange peel do somersaults.
Peter, following her gaze, shrugged. “He’s been like that all morning. I practically had to feed him a scone. Earth to Prongs!” he said while elbowing his friend, “we’ve got company.”
“Huh wha-?” James said, his mind slowly returning to the present. He blinked in confusion repeatedly before his eyes finally focused on Mary. “Where are Lily and Brice?”
Sirius snorted. “You just woke up and the first thing you talk about is Evans? Man, you are far gone.”
James rolled his eyes. “Bugger off, Padfoot.”
“Clearwater needed them for something, although she wouldn’t say what it was about,” Mary explained, feeling her stomach muscles contract. They should have been back by now. Was Clearwater on to them after all?
To her relief, she spotted her friends entering the Hall at that very moment. “What did Clearwater want?” she asked as Lily sat down next to her. Her friend’s expression was already somewhat soothing Mary’s troubling thoughts.
“Reprimanding us for working together on an assignment we were supposed to be doing alone. She did not fail us, though, so we’re fine.”
“Brilliant,” Mary nodded thoughtfully. “Well, that shows that I’ve been right about Clearwater all along.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Basically proving this jar of pumpkin juice has better Seer abilities than that bloody old hag.”
“Why would you say that, Mary?” Remus, who had been listening closely, asked.
Trying to ignore a warning glare from Lily, she grinned mischievously. “Let’s just say it is my inner eye, telling me what is right and what is wrong in this world.”
“Rrright,” he responded, looking like he was having some trouble making her out.
But Mary did not care. She was far too relieved she had succeeded in fooling Remus and that Lily and Brice had not been caught by Clearwater, which meant their plan was still on.
They were still cursing Mulciber, Wilkes and Travers, and they were going to do it tonight. Heaving a satisfied sigh, Mary reached for a pot of coffee and joined in on the conversation about how Gryffindor was going to win back the Quidditch Cup next year.
Mary had trouble concentrating on her afternoon classes and could hardly focus on her Herbology paper in the Common Room later on as well. She noticed Brice and Lily were out of it as well, and wondered if they were just anxious to find out if their plan worked out or that they were also dreading the possible consequences.
Putting those Slytherins on an embarrassing display in the Great Hall (in the presence of all the Professors) was a bold move, but they had agreed they would need the biggest audience possible.
In the afternoon Mary, who was too nervous to finish the essay anyway, joined Lily in visiting Hagrid, whose Crup Lizzy had just given birth to a nest of five youngsters.
The fur was still fully covering their little backs, so only a small amount of their forked tails was peeping out. If possible, this made them even more cute and Mary and Lily stayed at Hagrid’s place as long as they could.
They met up with Brice, who had just got back from her Ancient Runes class, in front of the Great Hall. The girls had made sure to get down early so they could await the arrival of their enemies, as well as be able to strategically sit at specific corners so their classmates would not immediately find out what they were up to.
They sat down side by side, Lily on the left, Brice in the middle and Mary on the far right, and held their wands at the ready. “Remember,” Lily whispered while Brice was pouring them each a goblet of mineral water, “the incantation is Apsconditavi Feminea. Say it once and do the rest of the spell-casting non-verbally. This should be easy.”
“Says who?” Mary asked, seriously doubting her ability to cast spells non-verbally.
“The book where I found the spell. Don’t worry, Mare,” Lily said, reading her mind. “It’ll be fine.”
By that time the Marauders had joined them at the table. “Having a secret meeting, I see,” Sirius said before noticing she had her gaze fixed on the Great Hall entrance. “What’s that you’re staring at?”
“None of your business, Black,” Lily replied coolly. She leaned back so she could poke Mary. “Pssht!”
“You’re in the best position right now to watch the doors without looking suspicious. Just poke us when they appear so I can provide a distraction and no one will notice we’re the ones casting the spell.”
Lily grinned, her green eyes lighting up with mischief. “Let’s do this.”
Mary grinned back. “This is gonna be great.”
She kept an eye on the Great Hall entrance while eating her stew without really tasting it. Not much later, at least sooner than her nervous self would have liked, the Slytherins walked through the door.
Mary elbowed Brice, who was just sipping her drink, choked on it and started coughing, unintentionally alerting Lily it was time. From the corner of her eye, Mary could see her friend holding out her wand under the table and pointing it at James, sitting at the other side.
She cast some kind of spell Mary did not recognize, but it turned James’s eyes glassy, made him lift his plate, which was still loaded with stew and mashed potatoes, and plant it right into Peter’s face.
In the brief chaos that followed – Peter was spluttering for air while James stared down at his hands, looking astonished, and the other surrounding students burst out in laughter (Sirius was laughing the loudest of all) – the girls quickly pointed their wands at the Slytherin table (their magic would only affect those who had been previously cursed) and prepared themselves.
They had divided the guys earlier: Lily was cursing Wilkes, Brice had chosen to focus on Travers and Mary would take care of Mulciber.
Right when James was telling Peter he had no idea what had made him throw his dinner in his friend’s face, Mary focused on Mulciber, who was just getting to his feet to get an even better view, and whispered: ”Apsconditavi Feminea.” She heard Lily and Brice mutter the incantation as well and from that very moment, there was no way back.
Not that Mary would ever forget nor regret the scene unfolding next. Now that they activated the curse with their spell, all they had to do was simply imagining their victims in embarrassing outfits or holding silly objects and it would happen, without any of the guys’ knowledge.
Mary watched Mulciber’s robes disappear in front of her eyes, displaying a ridiculously-looking pair of black boxers with little pink Pygmy Puffs (Mary did not have anything to do with that) and, realizing he was still holding a goblet, she transformed it into a Flobberworm.
Meanwhile, Lily had given Wilkes a new hairdo by turning his mousy blonde hair into cascading golden curls and was making him wear bright pink stiletto heels, while Brice had added a lilac tutu to Travers’ already imposing mid-section.
The Great Hall, students and professors alike, who up to that point had been watching the Marauders, turned towards the Slytherin table as one.
Students started whispering frantically and pointed at Wilkes and his friends. Even the other Slytherin students appeared amused. Alison Zabini in particular, who had stared at Mulciber’s boxers in sheer disbelief at first, was laughing so hard she would have tumbled backward from the bench if it would not have been for a friend pulling her back.
Wilkes and Travers had walked up Mulciber by now, looking confused as they were standing right between the Slytherin and Ravenclaw table. They had no clue what was going on and why everyone was laughing at them.
Travers pointed to a young blonde girl at the end of the Slytherin table, who Mary thought was probably a first-year. “Fiona!” he barked furiously. “What is going on?”
The young girl may have been small, but she certainly did not appear intimidated by a senior Slytherin like Travers approaching her. On the contrary, she was giggling. “I never knew you were into ballet, cousin. Do uncle and auntie Travers know about this?”
At their end of the Hall, Mary exchanged a look with Lily and Brice and silently agreed it was time for round two. Before casting another spell, Mary dared to shoot a look at the Marauders, who were all attentively observing the spectacle.
Sirius and Remus were beaming like Christmas had come early and James looked happier than he had done in days. Even Peter had momentarily ceased trying to wipe James’s dinner from his eyes and was watching the scene with his mouth hanging wide open.
Feeling her confidence grow, Mary turned back to Mulciber and – inspired by Lily who had just added a mauve leather handbag and fluffy boa to Wilkes’ outfit, she decided to put Mulciber back in some clothes.
With a single flash of her mind, Mulciber was suddenly wearing a pair of robes completely identical to those Professor Clearwater had been wearing earlier that week.
Clearwater was known for her extraordinary flamboyant dress sense, and Mary had pictured Mulciber in her most fluorescent purple and yellow robes, including a colour-changing turban.
This transformation brought on a fresh wave of laughter from the crowd, and the injustice of not knowing what was happening angered Mulciber even more. “What?” he yelled. “Shut up! Just SHUT up!”
Lily had just put make up (fluorescent 80′s style) on Wilkes when Brice transformed Travers’ tutu into a cute peacock-outfit. Unfortunately, none of them had been watching the Professor’s table and failed to notice McGonagall approachring the tormented Slytherins.
Their Transfiguration Professor waved her wand around the same time Brice’s spell hit Travers, making – besides instantly dressing him up as a peacock – a real peacock jumped out of the feathery tail, which everyone, including Mulciber, Travers and Wilkes, could see.
The animal, making loud and panicky sounds, scurried around the Great Hall for a moment before McGonagall made it disappear with a single wave of her wand. Another wave put Mulciber, Wilkes and Travers back in their ordinary school robes. For a moment, McGonagall stared down at her wand like she was intently listening to what it was trying to tell her.
Ar first no one did or say anything, but then, like a flock of fast approaching bees, students started to whisper frantically. Some of them had started laughing again as well, but they all turned dead silent when McGonagall abruptly turned and headed straight to their side of the Gryffindor table.
Mary’s stomach flipped upside down, but at first it seemed like their Head of House was approaching the Marauders. James certainly seemed to think so. “Professor!” he called long before McGonagall had reached them, “I swear I had nothing to d-”
“-Don’t bother Potter, it’s not you I want to have a talk with.”
McGonagall stopped in front of the girls, who – at least Mary was trying really hard – gazed up at her innocently. “Miss McDonald, to my office. Now.”
Mary and Lily both looked sideways at their friend, genuinely shocked, but Brice never looked back. Instead, she calmly rose from her seat with her wand at her side and followed McGonagall out of the Great Hall.
Immediately, the crowd went back to discussing loudly what they had just witnessed. Brice’s name was called more than once, and even the Marauders seemed impressed. “That was the most ingenious spell-casting I’ve ever seen,” Remus said, looking stunned.
“I know, right?” All former mood swings forgotten, James was back to his bright and confident-self. “I thought I’d about die when I saw Travers looking like a peacock.”
Peter laughed. “Personally, I thought those heels and boa looked really good on Wilkes.”
“Well, of course you would, Wormtail,” James sniggered. “You always had a thing for girls in pink.”
“I never knew Brice was such a powerful witch,” a dumbstruck Sirius, who appeared to have been miles away with his thoughts, suddenly said and turned to Lily and Mary. “Did you see that?”
“Er... Yes,” Lily replied after a pause, unable to prevent her cheeks from reddening fast. “Some incredibly powerful magic there, I’d say. Mare?” Her friend poked her hard in the ribs.
“Ooof. Yeah, definitely.” Mary got up from the bench. “We should go.”
“Oh, you girls are heading back to the Common Room already?” James asked when Lily had also left her seat and the girls were about to head out. “We should join you.”
“Just so you know, Prongs,” Remus said, clearing his throat, “It’s treacle tart for desert tonight. Do you really want to miss out on that?”
James considered this for a moment. “No. No, I don’t.”
Lily, sensing Remus may have known more than he was showing, shot him a grateful look before pulling Mary along by the arm and heading out of the Great Hall.
As soon as they passed the doors and made sure they were out of earshot from curious bystanders, Mary said: “We need to go to McGonagall’s office now and tell the truth.”
She expected Lily to agree full-heartedly and follow her, but her best friend hesitated. “What are you waiting for? Brice needs us. Let’s go!”
Still Lily did not move. “Unless...”
“Unless she doesn’t want us to come clean.”
Mary stared at Lily, clearly not following her. “Come again?”
Her friend was biting her lip. “I... I just have a feeling that if Brice wanted us to come, she would have told McGonagall by now.”
“Did she say anything to you?”
“No, not really. But knowing her, she’d rather die before selling us out. And... Well, considering what happened at the end with that peacock appearance, McGonagall only picked up that magic because they both cast a spell at the same time.”
Mary leaned back against a pillar, fidgeting with the sleeve of her robes. “I don’t know, Lil. It seems wrong to have her punished for something we did together.”
Lily grinned. “Well, you saw how the other students looked at her when she walked out of the Great Hall, right? People will love her for pranking Slytherin the way we did.”
Mary was still unconvinced and her friend lightly touched her arm. “I know what you’re thinking, Mare. And I agree, if there’s a chance of Brice getting suspended or expelled, we’ll go and tell the Professors. But until then, I suggest we just wait.”
Another few hours went by before Brice finally returned to the Common Room. Mary and Lily were curled up in the armchairs near the fire. They pretending to be working on the Herbology paper together, but in reality were just discussing what was the best thing to do.
Although Mary had reluctantly agreed to not head straight to McGonagall’s office and confess, part of her still felt they were doing the wrong thing. Eventually Lily offered that in the likely case Brice would get a detention, they would try helping her in every possible way, which put Mary’s conscience a little at ease. Nevertheless, she kept staring at the portrait hole the entire time instead of focusing on her essay.
When Brice finally showed up, she first had to work her way through a crowd of excited Gryffindors. Every single one of them, including the Marauders, tried to get close to and congratulate her on getting back at the Slytherins in the most fabulous way.
Mary saw Sirius roughy pushing a couple of two-years aside so he could wrap an arm around her waist. He leaned in and whispered something in her ear. Mary was unable to tell what he said, and was subconsciously even less sure if she liked what she was seeing, but it was making Brice beam even more.
It took their friend another fifteen minutes to reach them, but when the rest of the Gryffindors finally allowed her to flop down on one of remaining armchairs, she tied up her blonde hair in a ponytail before saying: “So... You guys didn’t show at McGonagall’s office at all.”
Mary sat up straight. “I’m so sorry, Brice. I knew we should have-”
“-Good,” she interrupted. “I’m glad you didn’t. Did you see how impressed everyone is? They’re looking at me like I’m famous or something: I heard someone calling me the witch of wonders. Can you believe that?”
“What, so Lily was right about us not seeing McGonagall?”
Brice looked at Lily. “You knew?”
Lily shrugged. “I had a hunch,” she said, looking modest.
Brice laughed. “Nice one, I’m impressed.”
“So how did it go with McGonagall?” she asked.
“The usual stuff. There was some scolding for disregarding the rules, dangerous spell-casting and not to forget publicly embarrassing other Hogwarts students. But then...” She started grinning again, ”then she practically praised me for standing up for my friend the way I did, besides mentioning the impressive amount of spells I managed to cast simultaneously.”
Lily snorted. “I bet.”
“You know,” Brice continued thoughtfully, “it was almost like McGonagall knew if I was not alone in this, but she would not say anything about it.”
“So you’re not getting expelled?” Mary asked.
Brice laughed. “Merlin no! She just gave me six weeks of detention with Slughorn, which probably means scrubbing used cauldrons or something silly like that.”
“We’ll be right there helping you out with that, of course,” Mary replied, who was finally able to feel a little proud of what they had accomplished today.
“Don’t bother. It will be a small price to pay to have seen Wilkes walking around in pink stiletto’s.”
Lily burst out laughing. “And how about Mulciber and his Pygmy Puff underwear? Mare, you naughty girl!”
Mary’s cheeks turned crimson. “I swear that was not me.”
“You mean he wore those by his own choice?”
All of them had started laughing by now and they quietly continued discussing the highlights of their successful prank. They had done what Mary never thought to be possible in the first place: publicly embarrassing at their arch enemies Wilkes, Travers and Mulciber with a complicated spell and (mostly) getting away with it. If anything, that was something to be truly proud of.
And she wasn’t alone in that. It was well after midnight when they decided it was time to go to bed. The only other Gryffindors left in the Common Room were James and Sirius and a couple of seventh-years.
Mary was just about to follow Lily and Brice up the stairs of the girls dormitory when she heard Sirius calling her name. “I guess you were right about not needing to be saved.”
Mary looked down on him from the top of the stairs. “What makes you say that?”
He cleared his throat. “With friends who have got your back like that, who needs chivalry?”
Mary thought about Lily and Brice and their determination to get back at Slytherin for attacking her and for the very first time that night, she genuinely smiled.
“Chivalry? As far as I’m concerned, Sirius, chivalry is dead.”
~*~ The End ~*~
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